Agricultural Association


Recommended Lab Move

According to an April 11 Associated Press story, the Bush Administration has recommended that the lab doing research on Foot and Mouth disease be moved to the mainland from an offshore lab on Plum Island in the Long Island Sound.

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The National Grange, headquartered in Washington, D.C. has filed a complaint in an effort to stop the move.

The disease is so contagious it can be carried off-site on workers clothes, their breath, or vehicles. It will only affect livestock; but if once turned loose could be devastating to the nation’s livestock economy.

A Foot and Mouth outbreak in Great Britain in 2001, ruined the nation’s livestock industry, with six million sheep, cattle and pigs slaughtered.

In a simulated U.S. outbreak, played out in Kansas, the National Guard would have ran out of bullets trying to kill all the animals, and riots would have broken out in the streets. A ditch 25 miles long, (Visualize a ditch from Boise City to the Texas County line.), to cover all the animals affected would have to have been dug, and this would have been just one geographical area affected.

The last outbreak in the U.S., was 1929.

It has been has been confined to Plum Island for more than 50 years. The island is only accessible by ferry or helicopter.

Some of the areas under consideration for the new lab are: Manhattan, Kan.; Athens, Ga.; Butner, N.C.; San Antonio, Texas and Flora, N.C. Each have agricultural areas nearby with thousands of head of livestock that could be in danger should the disease escape the confines of the new facility.

If there are no road blocks thrown up, the site could be selected this year and open by 2014.

In a April 21, press release from the National Grange, the nation’s oldest Ag organization sent a letter directly to the Secretary of Agriculture, Ed Shafer, expressing its opposition to the move.

The move is being considered because of the need to do more research on diseases that may cross from animals to humans, (which foot and mouth can’t), and the Plum Island facility is not secure enough for this type of experiment.

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